Ask a student to support their reasons for an answer can sometimes be as fun as dental surgery. (No offense to all of you wonderful dental surgeons out there--it is an utter fear of mine!!) Over the years, I have come to realize a few things. Providing support for an answer can be difficult because it certainly requires a higher level of thinking, it requires language skills, and it may not be an inherent skill for many students. Formulating an answer to that question..."Why?"...just isn't as easy as we would like it to be for so many; therefore, it may be important for us to provide a visual to help out.
A few years ago, as my daughters and I were playing "kitchen," I realized what a great tool I had right in front of me.
This ice cream cone is just a plastic play toy. But it holds a lot of teaching power. The ice cream pulls off the cone; therefore, it is easy to illustrate the support that the cone provides the ice cream. Of course, you can also do this with real ice cream and allow it to melt in your hands when support is not provided. Then you can eat it all up!!
I told the students that the best part of an ice cream cone is the ice cream. We talked about how important the cone is because it SUPPORTS the ice cream. If we did not have the cone, all the ice cream would just melt in our hands. I related this concept to supporting or giving reasons of support either to an answer or to our opinion.
Honestly, I have been able to use this concept in many different situations in which students need to provide support:
- the details that SUPPORT the main idea
- reasons to SUPPORT that you like or dislike a book
- providing SUPPORT for the best part or favorite part of the book
- providing EVIDENCE when answering a question